Sacramento Power Outages Hit 100,000 Homes and Businesses Amid Major Storm

Power outages are affecting tens of thousands of people in the Sacramento area after a storm system brought strong winds, heavy rain and snow to parts of California on Tuesday night.

The Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) is currently reporting north of 700 active power outages, affecting roughly 100,000 customers.

"Mother nature is dealing us a rough hand tonight," SMUD posted on Twitter Tuesday evening. "We're experiencing scattered power outages due to the rainy, windy weather."

"We've got all hands on deck to restore power as quickly and safely as possible. Thanks for your patience as we continue to assess the outages throughout the night."

According to SMUD figures, the worst affected community at the time of writing is the Arden area, where around 36,000 customers are without power.

The "major West Coast winter storm" is expected to affect California through late week bringing "heavy snow to the northwest mountains at unusually low elevations with feet of snow in the Sierra Nevadas, heavy rain with possible flooding especially near recent burn scars, and high winds," the National Weather Service (NWS) said.

On Tuesday, the NWS said the storm was expected to bring strong gusty winds to the California coastline, in the Bay Area, and across the Sacramento Valley.

For example, a High Wind Warning is now in effect until 8 a.m. PST on Wednesday for the Sacramento Valley, Carquinez Strait and Delta, Northern San Joaquin Valley, and the surrounding foothills, with gusts of up to 60 miles per hour expected in some locations.

"Damaging winds will blow down trees and power lines. Widespread power outages are expected. Travel will be difficult, especially for high profile vehicles," the NWS said in the alert issued early Wednesday morning local time.

GOES-WEST IR 🛰️ imagery this evening is capturing the atmospheric river plume rapidly moving into far NW California (eg. Point Mendocino). Overcast conditions across our region will rapidly evolve into heavy rain bands & strong winds this evening. Be weather-aware tonight! #CaWx

— NWS Bay Area (@NWSBayArea) January 26, 2021

Late on Tuesday evening, KCRA 3 Chief Meteorologist Mark Finan reported a gust of 61 miles per hour in Sacramento's North Highlands area, while gusts of over 50 miles per hour have been recorded in at least five different locations in the wider area.

There have already been several reports of downed power lines, blown-over trees and storm-related traffic hazards and crashes in the area.

Numerous locations across California have Winter Storm Warnings in effect while Blizzard Warnings are in place for parts of the Sierra Nevada. Flood Watch warnings are also in effect for some areas of the state.

"Over the next three days, as much as 10 to 15 inches of rain could fall along the central California coast roughly between Monterey and Santa Barbara. This amount of rain in a 72-hour period is very rare for this region."

Rain on an umbrella in bad weather
Stock image showing rain on an umbrella in bad weather. A major winter storm has caused power outages to parts of California. iStock